Aniston's Support Hurts Democrats, while Manning's Support Helps Republicans
Stars who donate to political campaigns can make a party more or less likable, depending on what voters think of the stars in the first place.
It is according to a new study by Anthony Nownes, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
"My results support the general notion that celebrity giving to political parties and their candidates affects people's views of the parties," Nownes wrote.
In the study, more than 500 UT students were quizzed about their response to the information that actress Jennifer Aniston has donated heavily to Democrats and quarterback Peyton Manning has donated to Republicans.
As for having students as his subjects, Nownes noted research shows that "students are not much different than anybody else…probably the only difference is they might be slightly more open to new information."
The researcher chose Manning because, as a former UT gridiron star, he is very popular among Tennessee students. He chose Aniston because most students would know her, but their opinion of her wasn't so clear cut.
He found that Aniston's support hurt the Democrats, while Manning's support helped the Republicans.
"If we think of the political parties as 'brands,' these results suggest that information about which celebrities 'use' each brand can affect people's attitudes about the brands," Nownes said.
It was also found that people sometimes change their opinions about stars after learning about their political leanings.
"Throwing their support behind a presidential candidate doesn't help the celebrities much," the researcher said. "They don't get much positive from it, and they might get negative."
In this test, the data showed that people who are not particularly fond of Republicans were turned off by Manning's support for the Republicans and adjusted their opinions of him accordingly. Similarly, respondents who disliked the Democratic Party viewed Jennifer Aniston more negatively after learning about her contribution to Democrats.
The findings of the study appear in the current issue of American Politics Research.